LESSON 1:IV – MEASURING THE MAGNITUDE OF ACES AND TRAUMA
Using the tool with care
What is the magnitude of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in your county? The ACEs survey scores are a starting point for discussing the level of ACEs-related childhood trauma and untreated adult trauma in your county. The ACEs Survey was developed and first published in the The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. Felitti et al.1998. (https://aae.how/202)
In Anna, Age Eight we explore the survey, noting how adults respond differently to the results of the ten-question survey. This ranges on a continuum from thinking, “Yeah, my family was tough but I made it through” to those who are aware of their long-term struggles with feelings of trauma associated with childhood abuse and neglect.
The ACEs survey is a powerful tool. It will allow your community and county leaders and stakeholders to understand the magnitude of adverse childhood experiences and potential trauma within the youth and adult populations. The survey process should be used with care. The information it reveals to the survey taker can be a trigger for memories of adversity, abuse and neglect. We recommend that organizations using the survey let respondents know, before taking the survey, where they can access people to talk with (i.e. in a school setting, the school-based behavioral health care center would be such a place).
The role of the survey in 100% Community:
As stated above, your local initiative team will want to reach out to residents working in all 10 sectors to discuss how the ACEs survey might be used with both student and adult populations. Your local public health and child welfare data will provide a lot of information about the scope of trauma in your community.
ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE SURVEY
ONE: Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often push, grab, slap or throw something at you? Or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
TWO: Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often swear at you, insult you, put you down or humiliate you? Or act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
THREE: Did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? Or attempt, or actually have, oral, anal or vaginal intercourse with you?
FOUR: Did you often or very often feel that no one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special, or that your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other or support each other?
FIVE: Did you often or very often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes or had no one to protect you? Or your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed to go?
SIX: Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic? Or who used street drugs?
SEVEN: Was your parent or stepparent often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped or hit by a thrown object? Or sometimes, often, or very often, kicked, bitten, hit with a fist or hit with something hard? Or ever repeatedly hit for at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
EIGHT: Was a household member depressed or mentally ill? Or did a household member attempt suicide?
NINE: Were your parents separated or divorced?
TEN: Did a household member go to prison?
Review the interactive Adverse Childhood Experiences survey below to understand what it can reveal to people of all ages. The ACEs survey is not provided here to serve as a diagnostic tool. It is provided to promote awareness of ACEs and encourage dialogue about the impact of adversity and potential trauma.
It is important to note that the ten questions above are the original ten that were asked in the first study. In recent years, tools have been developed that include other questions broadening the scope of Adverse Childhood Experiences to include experiences such as discrimination and parental separation. ACEs should be considered a starting point for measuring trauma, rather than a comprehensive list of all traumatic events that may happen in childhood.